Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
What Has Nintendo Done Right Lately?

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 18 Feb 2014 10:48
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So if you're just joining us, last week in Zero Punctuation I very cheekily pretended to be reviewing A Link Between Worlds, the latest Zelda on the 3DS that came out last year, but actually I was covertly taking the opportunity to give Nintendo a stern talking-to. Because someone needs to tell Nintendo that they're too insular for their own good. It's like a big boy's treehouse club refusing to let any slimy girls or new kids up the rope ladder until they give the appropriate password and tribute payable in Mars bars. Except nobody wants to join Nintendo's treehouse club, because Nintendo is thirty-five, and all the other members of the treehouse club have moved away and gotten jobs and lives.

I think the conclusion we reached is that Nintendo as a dedicated creator of games hardware are losing their footing in a world where gaming preference leans more and more towards multi-function devices. With the additional problem that their name is associated with games and nothing else. Sony has the TVs and the film studio, Microsoft has the operating systems and the monopoly thing, so they're in greyer areas. But the phrase, "I'm gonna go and watch TV on the Nintendo," just sounds kinda wrong.

So personally I think it may be in Nintendo's best interests to give up while they're in distant third place and pull a Sega, 'cos a dedicated games platform relies almost solely upon the quality of games, and that quality has dropped due to a lack of due care and attention, brought about by issues with the platform, ironically. If that was out of the way, and enough pride had been swallowed that you can tolerate the sight of, say, Majora's Mask being available for download on Steam, maybe Nintendo could remind us why we loved them in the first place. And if Nintendo and Sega were back on even turf again, existing only as competing developer/publishers, then it'd be like Holmes and Moriarty matching wits once more. Crucially, Nintendo, that is a battle that you could currently win. All you have to do is not redesign Mario with a scarf and bandages around his shoes.

But let's not spend this whole column reiterating the video. I noticed after it went up that a few people with no sense of humour whatsoever expressed disappointment that I hadn't actually reviewed A Link Between Worlds properly, as promised by the title. Well. Sorry. Frankly, I thought about it, but I had this gut sense of total futility about the whole idea of straight-facedly reviewing it. I have a lot of drums that I like to bang, but there are some drums that it seems like everybody has trained themselves not to hear, and many of those are the drums I tend to bang when a new Zelda comes out. Besides, the game itself was far less interesting to me than the plight of Nintendo as a whole, and I felt like I'd only be popping individual blisters on a smallpox victim.

Last week we were talking about nostalgia, and we learned that nostalgia is like a ten-inch stiffy. In the right circumstances it is very welcome and very handy to have around, but there are other circumstances when it just breeds negativity. Like if you flop it out while meeting the in-laws and let it drip on the rug. Nintendo used to wield that ten-inch stiffy like a cross between a world-class porn director and a master swordsman, but it's been sending more and more of my rugs to the dry cleaners lately. We remember that good nostalgia consists of evoking and learning from the past, whereas bad nostalgia is a refusal to move on from it.

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